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HOME  /  GOTHIC FOLLY  /  GARDEN ORNAMENTS  /  YARD SALE /  KINGFISHER MOULD SALE

 
Introduction  /  Classical Stonework  /  Weathered Collection / Reclamation Stone / Naturally Aged   Follow us on... Redwood Stone Twitter   Redwood Stone Facebook
 
  Introduction  /  Garden  / Architectural
 
The Old Manor House Garden
Chelsea Flower Show
Hampton Court Flower Show

setting antiquity in stone

It was when I’d just bought a 400-year-old house with about an acre of generously planted garden in late 1998 that I started to think about creating an instant weathered finish for our stonework.

I was struck by the beautifully planted garden the first time we saw the house, but slightly regretted the lack of ornamentation and focal points. It then occurred to me that we could it as an outdoor ‘photographic studio’ for Redwood Stone, where we could experiment with planting and the positioning of garden ornaments.

So, as early as possible on the first morning in our new home, I sauntered into the garden, cup of tea in hand, to start planning my new ‘show garden’.

Weathered Ashmore Vase & Plinth

I was back in the kitchen in less than ten minutes, feeling a little low. This wasn’t going to be nearly as easy as I’d imagined. In the setting of the weather-ravaged stonework of the house and the mature planting in the garden, the crisp lines, sharp detail and fine quality finish of the items in our classical ornamental stonework collection would stick out like so many sore thumbs.

Ashmore Vase & Plinth

This was when I began to understand why the small selection of 10 to 15-year-old examples of our stone we show at Chelsea each year is always the first to sell. And at much higher prices than the new items! It’s obvious really - if you own a period property, you want to furnish the house and the garden with items that blend into their environment immediately. The last thing you want is something that looks new.

But as I began my search for suitable pieces, I soon found that Redwood Stone had almost sold out of our old ‘weathered’ items. Worse, so had all the reclamation yards. It was clear that the recent popularity of antique stone vases, benches, balustrades and other artefacts had led to supplies
virtually drying up.

Of course, an important reason for the success of our ranges over the years has always been that the hand-finished crushed natural stone we use weathers far more authentically than the dyed sands and limestones used by other firms. But I too was now one of the increasing number of customers expressing impatience at having to wait for weathering to take place. With this obvious supply crisis in antique stone, it was time to act.

So the Redwood Stone team developed a unique weathering process, starting with the creation of a top quality product that already had the texture of age. We quickly rejected the approach taken by some companies, which is to create a misshapen mould to give the impression of age. Clearly, most objects that have survived down the centuries were beautifully made by highly skilled craftsmen, so to gain the precise effect we wanted we closely studied a number of original artefacts. We even restored some damaged examples to learn the skills we needed to create something that looked and ‘smelled’ 300 years old, but which was still essentially undamaged. So we became excellent restorers at the same time!

Byzantine Vase Weathered Seat Byzantine Vase

The next stage was to apply the appropriate formula to achieve the colour, as well as the texture, of weathering. Although I’m reluctant to reveal the secrets of this process I’d like to deny that we have followed the yoghurt and cowmuck route. Such applications can accelerate lichen growth, but the results can be extremely dubious and do little to recreate the effects of natural weathering.

This new Redwood Stone method means that in some five days we can produce an apparently quite authentic artefact, several hundred years old. The only way to gauge how successful we’ve been is to assess how well these products fit into a mature garden or landscape.

If they look as if they’ve been there for centuries – or at least decades – then we’ve achieved our aim.
They certainly look the part in my own garden!

 
Redwood Stone, The Stoneworks, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset BA5 3EH, England   Tel 01749 677777
 
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